Prevent Pink Eye in the Classroom

September is “Children’s Eye Health Month”. In recognition of that, the American Academy is providing information for parents and educators on how to prevent the the spread of infectious conjunctivitis “pink eye” in the classroom.

Estimates are that over 164 million school days are missed by children nationwide because of infectious diseases about 3 million of which are from pink eye (source - American Journal of Infection Control).

Conjuctivitis means swelling of the conjunctiva, which is the thin membrane that covers the inside of the eyelids and the white part of the eye. It can be caused by cold viruses which usually cause irritation and redness but little discharge. It can be caused by allergies which gives one the “itchy / watery” eyes familiar to anyone with seasonal allergies. Or, it can be caused by a bacteria which leads to redness, irritation and typically a lot of mucous yellow or green discharge.

To help prevent it: encourage your child(ren) to wash or gel their hands often and avoid touching their eyes throughout the day. Discourage the reusing of towels, washcloths, handkerchiefs or tissues that have been used by others to wipe their face. Clean their pillowcases frequently.

If your child has conjunctivitis, a warm compress might help it feel better. If one eye is infected, make sure not to use the same cloth on the non-infected eye so it doesn’t spread. As always, if it worsens or if there is a lot of discharge, see your doctor t see if antibiotic drops, or some other treatment is warranted.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Emphasizes the Need to get the Flu Shot this Year

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a policy statement regarding the need for influenza vaccine for the 2011-2012 flu season.

Even though this year’s vaccine contains the same strains as last year’s, immunity can decrease by 50% in a year’s time. This means that even if someone had the flu shot last year, they may well still be susceptible to catching it this year.

It is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age. It is particularly important for all children under age 5 years as well as children of any age with high risk conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. It is also of great importance that family-members, household contacts and child care providers of these children also receive the vaccine.

The same policy statement also strongly urges all women who are pregnant, who may become pregnant or who are breastfeeding during the 2011-2012 flu season to be immunized as well.

The statement further clarifies that the flu vaccine is generally safe for children with mild egg allergy (the virus is grown in eggs although nearly all egg protein is removed during the production process).

Children 6 months of age to 8 years will need two doses of the vaccine one month apart if they did not get the flu vaccine last year, otherwise they and children over age 9 will need only one dose this year.

We have about 34,000 deaths a year from the flu in the US, with the elderly and the young most affected. Please do keep your child safe and get them immunized!

What's Going Around - Sep 5, 2011

Well, the kids are back in school, and that means they are sharing germs once again. What’s been in the office lately is a fair bit of Strep Throat as well as a viral sore throat with spots of pus on the tonsils of many of the kids. i have also been seeing some vomiting and diarrheal illness of the one to days of vomiting variety, and a nasty cold that has really been making people feel crummy for the first 2-3 days.

As always, if you are concerned about your child, get them in to a physician to be checked!

Back Again!

My apologies to any of you who have been checking the blog these past few weeks. Since we went live on our Electronic Health Record in the office, I have had literally no free time for anything else during the day. In any case, things are starting to settle a bit. So I am going to resume the blog starting today!